Window shoppingTake a stroll through downtown Lititz

By on December 21, 2011

By: STEPHEN SEEBER Record Express Staff, Staff Writer

For the second December weekend in a row, downtown Lititz was bustling with holiday shoppers.

The first week got a boost from two well attended events — Christmas in the Park and Have Yourself A Merry Lititz Christmas.

The second enjoyed a busy turnout for 2nd Friday and the addition of a Christmas market in the historic Rudy building at 27-31 E. Main St.

With less than two weeks left before Christmas, the shopping interest should continue as local stores have designed some festive window displays — from the metallic snowmen at Cherry Acres, to the festive fireplace at Teddy Bear Emporium, to the award-winning storefront at Candyology. And history buffs will enjoy the framed Christmas 1979 streetscape in the window at Heavenly Soaps & Scents, which features former downtown businesses such as D.E. Furlow’s 5&10, Bingeman’s Restaurant and Spacht’s Furniture.

Spacht’s was located in the old Rudy building, a stately structure in the heart of downtown Lititz. It has been vacant for some time as owner Wes and Lisa Terry renovate. Last weekend, they opened the doors to the former town hall building.

"The Main Street Christmas Market was overwhelmingly successful," said Lisa. "A big thank you to the community for their support, as well as their contributions to the Central PA Food Bank. We had many compliments of people enjoying what the vendors were offering, as well as opening Rudy’s Hall to the public. Many of our vendors would love to see the market repeated on a weekly basis. We are considering opening the market on a monthly basis throughout the winter."

Dates under consideration are Jan. 20-21, Feb. 17-18 and March 17-18.

"Our long term plans for Rudy’s Hall are to begin construction on the basement, second and third floor improvements," she added. "The improvements will include a new elevator and stair tower, sprinkler system throughout the building, as well as new electrical and HVAC systems for those floors. At the completion of those improvements, we will be welcoming new tenants for restaurant, office or retail space."

For more information about the building, contact Lisa at rudyshall@gmail.com or call 888-490-7596.

While the building has been empty for a while, it does have a promising future and its historical significance may be the cornerstone of its success.

"Historically and architecturally, the Rudy building is important to downtown and fits the decor," said Ron Reedy, local historian. "You need to understand why the building was built, which is as follows:

As the 19th Century came to a close there were no adequate facilities for fraternal organizations to meet or to accommodate community social activities or theater in Lititz.

Miles H. Rudy, at the age of 30, decided to build such a facility. Miles was a butcher who lived at 34 E. Main St. with his wife Lillie Ida and their seven children, six girls and one boy. The Rudys were a prominent family in the area. In December 1900, Rudy’s Hall, located at 27 E. Main St., was opened with a benefit for the Lititz Hose Company, known today as Lititz Fire Company No. 1.

In November of 1900, the Franco-American Scenic Company of East Liverpool, Ohio, entered into a contract with Miles H. Rudy to paint a complete set of scenery for the stage located on the second floor of Rudy’s Hall. The scenery was for the new version of Mr. Manfield’s revival of T.S. Arthur’s masterpiece entitled "Ten Nights in a Barroom." The production opened on Monday evening, Dec. 17 and was the first time in many years that the citizens of Lititz had the opportunity to see this new version. It was claimed to have been the greatest dramatization of this popular play ever produced on any stage.

During the first week in December, members of the local Y.M.C.A., assisted by a number of young ladies, gave what was termed a "Mystic Tea" in the large room on the first floor of the new Rudy building.

On Dec. 20, 1900 the Lititz Lodge No. 253, Knights of Pythian, the oldest lodge in Lititz, had the pleasure of being first lodge to occupying the new lodge room on the third floor. Eight fraternal lodges met on the third floor of Rudy’s Hall.

In September of 1901, H.H. Snavely, proprietor of the Warwick House, rented the first floor for a market. Also, located on the first floor was a bake shop operated by John C. Crall, and the C. Harvey Krick Barber Shop.

Dec. 30, 1903 to Jan. 2, 1904, the first annual exhibition of poultry and pigeons was held in Rudy’s Hall by the Lancaster County Poultry and Pigeon Association. This group was the forerunner of the Lititz Community Show Association. In 1908 an individual from Lancaster rented the second floor of Rudy’s Hall and began a silent movie theater. In addition, the second floor was used as a basketball court and it was said that the rafters shook as the participants habituated the two-handed dribble.

In 1925, Rudy’s Hall was purchased by Ralph Spacht and the hall became known as the Spacht Building. Later, the building was purchased by William Bell to house Lititz Office Products.

"Rudy’s Hall is rich in history and for this reason I feel it is important to keep and maintain this historical building," Reedy added. "It would be great if the building could be restored and once again house what was originally located in the facility. I think you could make it work — a place for a market, tea room, theater, meeting rooms, etc." More CHRISTMAS, page A22

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